Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Offertory for the Feast of the Visitation: Beata Es, Virgo Maria

That's tomorrow, May 31; here the offertory is sung by the Cantarte Regensburg:

Here are the Latin and English words, from CPDL:
Beata es, Virgo María, quae omnium portasti Creatorem: genuisti qui te fecit, et in aeternum permanes virgo, Alleluia.

Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Creator of all things: thou didst bring forth Him Who made thee, and remainest forever a virgin. Alleluia.

Here's the full chant score:

The story of the Visitation comes from Luke 1:39-56 - and contains some of the most wonderful writing in the Gospels, including the words for the Magnificat:
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

And Mary* said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Interestingly, Oremus Bible footnotes this, at the point of the asterisk above, with: "Other ancient authorities read Elizabeth"!  That's totally fascinating, to me.  Of course, the Magnificat was originally cribbed, anyway, from the song of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2:1-10:

Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.

‘There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Here's Tomás Luis de Victoria's beautiful polyphonic setting:

Wikipedia says this image is "The Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary," from St. George Church, Kurbinovo, Macedonia, and dates from 1191:

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